Sensitivity Testing

Food Allergy or Food Sensitivity?

In a food reaction, the immune system acts by releasing molecules called antibodies. Foods that cause antibodies to be released are called antigens or allergens. Two types of antibodies commonly produced in response to foods are IgE (immunoglobin E) and IgG (immunoglobin G). Food allergies and Food Sensitivities differ by the type of antibody produced and the speed of the reaction.
A classic Food Allergy is mediated by the IgE antibody, and results in an immediate (within minutes) reaction brought about by the release of histamines, causing classic “allergic” symptoms (i.e. puffy eyes, hives, sinusitis, anaphylaxis etc).  Such immediate food allergies are therefore generally easy to recognize.

However, what is often called a “Hidden” food allergy, or Food Sensitivity, is mediated by the IgG antibody, which results in often a more generalized reaction, which can be delayed by hours, or even up to a couple of days after being exposed to the offending food.  Such hidden Food Sensitivities can thus be difficult to recognize and identify, especially if the offending food is habitually eaten, obscuring the “cause” and “effect” connection.  

Food Sensitivity

Food Sensitivity:

IgG reactions take hours or days to develop, making it difficult to identify the causative food without testing. In an IgG reaction, the IgG antibodies attach themselves to the allergen and create an antibody-allergen complex. These complexes are normally removed by special cells called macrophages. However, if they are present in large numbers and the allergen is still being consumed, the macrophages are unable to remove all the complexes.

The allergen-antibody complexes accumulate and are deposited in body tissues, such as the skin or joints. Once in tissue, these complexes trigger the release of inflammation-causing chemicals, which can contribute to a variety of chronic diseases and health conditions.

Conditions associated with Food Sensitivities:

  • Digestive disorders (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating)
  • Migraines
  • Mood/attention deficit disorders
  • Weight gain
  • Skin conditions (itching, redness, swelling, rashes)
  • Brain conditions (mood and memory disturbances, behavioural problems)
  • Lung conditions (bronchitis, asthma symptoms)
  • Systemic symptoms (i.e. fever, fatigue, chills, sweating and feeling weak)
  • Musculoskeletal conditons (I.e.. joint pain, muscle stiffness, swelling)

Why Test Food Sensitivity?

Because hours or days can pass between the time a reactive food is consumed and the occurrence of a discernible symptom, laboratory testing of IgG antibodies for their reactivity to certain foods is often the most expedient way to determine which foods are responsible for the reaction.
Another option would be to spend a period of time following an “Elimination Diet”, where a long list of commonly-reactive foods are strictly avoided for 5-6 weeks, and then re-introduced, one at a time, to determine symptomatic reactivity by process of elimination.  However, this strategy, while effective in many cases, does not work for all symptom pictures, and does require some degree of patience and discipline in order to be effective.
IgG reactions frequently occur to commonly consumed foods such as dairy, wheat, eggs, yeast, pork and soy.

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Good health has a lot do do with maintaining balance: the right balance of work and play, the right balance of nutrients in the diet, and the right kinds of foods.

Undiagnosed food sensitivities may contribute to symptoms and biochemical changes that may contribute to illness.

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